Tuesday, October 8, 2013


My Late Adolescent Poetry, Translated Into Plain English

“The List Poem”

Avenue A, Tompkins Square Park,
The Bowery, Ludlow Street
These are places in New York
Where I hung out over winter break.
I hope some guy in poetry class
Reading this,
Thinks I’m cool,
And asks me out for coffee.

Hefeweizen, Beaujolais, grappa, kir
I am underage yet I can still list drinks!
How sophisticated is that?
Particularly for someone who hangs out on Ludlow street.
Foreign words do sound nifty
When italicized in a poem,
And these are the only foreign words I can think of
Naturally, because I am drunk.

“The Greek Myth Reimagined Poem”
Demeter’s daughter Persephone
was abducted by the monarch of Hell
for eating a pomegranate.

And my roommates
without permission
ate all my birthday cake
when they were stoned on Saturday.

These two stories are related
because they are about theft,
food, and the passage of time.
I don’t know why anyone
would not find this juxtaposition
incredibly striking.

“The Unrequited Love Poem”

I have a brand-new crush–
my crush does not notice me yet.
I feel like a leaf under his boot
I wish he were under my boot
and I could step on him carelessly
then twist my heel, like on a cigarette butt
However, my self esteem is not quite there yet
hopefully it will improve though
I could do all kinds of work on myself
–or you know, my crush could just notice me.
(See what I did there? Mentioned my crush
So I could bring this this poem full circle
of course, not because I’m obsessing.)

“The Agonizing Conflict Poem”

My heart feels split in two
like Hamlet’s mind, or the House of Usher.
On one side there’s feminism:
Fraternities promote date rape
chauvinism and all sorts of bad stuff.
On the other side: expedience.
At the frat there’ll be a keg and
my fake ID’s been getting turned down.

What a dilemma
a schism, fissure, a rending.
Those are some “poetry words”
which express that it’s torture
to alone be seized by moral qualms
in this corrupted world.

"The Post-Mortem Poem"

Yesterday we saw each other in the hallway
for the first time since we broke up.
I was carrying a textbook
A textbook that I had never even read
maybe like I never “read” your intentions.

I don’t even like you, for
you’re something of a douche
But this was the most
interesting sequence of events
in my routine this semester
at least since the cafeteria
had taco night.

Therefore I will continue to analyze it
in a long series of poems
maybe even a cycle.
Wow, that would be so impressive.
I think I must be the next Edna St. Vincent Millay
or maybe a jollier Sylvia Plath?
Oh hey, my roommates have a bong!
Umm, muse, I’ll check in with you later.


Photo via jull/flickr.

Sarah Marian Seltzer is a writer, mostly of prose, in New York City. Find her at @sarahmseltzer or sarahmarian.tumblr.com.

24 Comments / Post A Comment


The fact that I wrote poetry as an adolescent embarrasses me. The poems themselves embarrass me more. Except the sonnet explaining evolution: that one won me some money and it was nerdy instead of angsty.


@notpollyanna Oh god, I desperately want to read a sonnet explaining evolution. That sounds marvelous.


@RubeksCube Ask and you shall receive. The prompt was to explain the foundational ideas of genetics and evolution. I wrote a sonnet instead of an essay because I am weird.

Upon a chance genovariation
a fresh recessive gene might dare appear.
And if this proves a goodly mutation,
this gene might re- and re- and reappear.
The more who live because of this new gene,
the more the gene will propagate throughout;
however, the gene will be quarantined
if proving to be a destructive bout.
The phenomenon of evolution
is what we call it when a genotype
arrives at a novel situation
for which the organism does not gripe.
It always chooses the beneficial,
never the harmful, but sometimes the neutral.

Jordi Alonso@facebook

it doesn't even scan though...


perfect!!! my new fav!!!@v


Toooooo close to home!


I wish I had read this before throwing away so many drawings and letters in high embarrassment of young jb. What a great way to cope with the high ridiculousness of teenage seriousness.


@JuiceBox so many tortured metaphors!

lasso tabasco

I rediscovered my book of hideous middle school-era poetry and OMFG I want to burn it but burning it would mean further acknowledging its existence. D:


@lasso tabasco I am torn between destroying my juvenalia to prevent it from tarnishing the reputation for innate perfection and effortless brilliance that I will have obtained, somehow, as a successful writer, somehow (oh man it would tarnish it so hard), and keeping it out of respect for my biographers and the historical record.


I never wrote poetry and I am glad.

Miss Maszkerádi

More things for me to be ashamed of...


I sort of love this?

But speaking of things I hate rediscovering... Old journals.


@nina! I'm always like "hey! Past self! Maybe, once in a while, you could write when you're happy and/or interesting? Cause this journal is both depressingly banal and agonizingly sad."

Eyre Apparent

@RNL I'll drink to that.


so good. so perfect.

my favorite satirical version, before this: Rick's Teen Anguish Poem
(from Bachelor Boys: The Young Ones Book)

oh god,
am I so much more sensitive than everybody else ?
do I feel things so much more acutely than them,
and understand so much more.
I bet I'm the first person who's ever felt as rotten as this.
could it be
that I'm going to grow up
to be a great poet and thinker, and all those other wankers in my
class are going to have to work in factories or go on the dole?
yes, I think it could.


@iceberg Love this.


@iceberg AHAHAH That is my favorite poem of all. I <3ed the Young Ones. Although I am scared to rewatch them in case they are as casually racist as Fawlty Towers.


I really hope the poetry I write at 30 makes me feel as gross at 40 as the poetry I wrote in college does now.

I mean, basically my entire understanding of 'growing up' is being completely mortified by how I used to be while being simultaneously nostalgic for those days .


I recently looked up my old Geocities website on the Wayback machine. Has anyone else done this?

Here it is, if you wanna be SO EMBARRASSED: http://bit.ly/19ephJO


Lovely Poems..


If ever there was a time to say this, 'tis now: It is what it is. I don't feel shame over my old poems, nor will I. I don't dig them out often; I certainly don't share them; but equally certain is it that I don't wish them unwritten or expunged.

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